2022 Novelist Reading Challenge: “Maus” by Art Spiegelman

For the second year in a row, NoveList has created a year long reading challenge to help people stretch their reading comfort zones. The challenge gives 24 prompts for readers: 12 for beginners and 12 for aficionados. My goal is to complete all 24 prompts this year. I’ll be making my way through the list and writing reviews about the books I really like. You can find the full reading challenge here.

First up is prompt #17: Read a graphic novel with black and white illustrations. I don’t typically read graphic novels so I was planning on putting this prompt off until later in the year. Then I saw some new articles about controversy over the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel, Maus by Art Spiegelman. It was removed from the 8th grade curriculum by a Tennessee school board for its “unnecessary use of profanity and nudity and its depiction of violence and suicide.” There is nothing I love more than challenged books, so I knew I needed to read it.

Maus follows the strained relationship between author Art Spiegelman and his aging father, Vladek, a Holocaust survivor. The novel begins in 1978 with a visit between Art and Vladek. It moves between two timelines, intertwining their visits in present day with Vladek’s stories of his life during the Holocaust. We follow Vladek all the way through the war: from his time as a POW, his time in a ghetto, his multiple hiding spots in between, and finally to his time in Auschwitz and Dachau. He tells of the people and family members he met and lost along the way, and the horrors he faced during those six years. The novel ends after Vladek tells the story of his return to his hometown at the end of the war and his reunion with his wife Anya, Art’s mother. The last panel is an image of Anya’s and Vladek’s tombstone. Anya died by suicide in 1968 and Vladek of congestive heart failure in 1982 before the book was completed.

This book was intense, and it took me a while to get through it. I picked it up and read the first part in one sitting. I usually read books in about 2-4 days, but I had to let this one sit for about a week before I could continue. Maus does not gloss over gruesome details of the Holocaust. Vladek tells stories about murder, violence, torture, starvation, medical experimentation, sickness, and suicide. Maus is one of the best books I’ve read in my adult life. It was difficult, but it was a necessary reminder of a terrible part of the world’s history. Spiegelman said it best, “This is disturbing imagery, but you know what? It’s disturbing history.” I highly recommend this book, even if you’ve read other Holocaust stories in the past. The graphic novel format makes the amazing storytelling that much more impactful.

Check Out All the Books I’ve Read for This Challenge

         

What is a Hoosier, Anyway?

For almost 200 years, people from Indiana have been calling themselves “Hoosiers”, but every time someone asks where the name came from, an ages-old debate is sparked between favorite wives’ tales and references in literature. It’s time to set the record straight (or at least attempt to do so)! Let’s figure out together what it really means to be a Hoo Hoo Hoo HOOSIER!

The use of the term “Hoosier” first appeared in the 1830s, when a poem by John Finley named “The Hoosier’s Nest” appeared in the Indianapolis Journal in 1833. Since then, the title has been synonymous with the people of Indiana. Several popular theories have sprouted up to explain the word’s origin over time, some more wild and wacky than others. Here are some of the most famous:

  1. Early in Indiana’s beginnings, settlers would answer the door with a quick “Who’s yere?” and the greeting eventually became our title.
  2. Indiana rivermen were notoriously good at silencing subduing their enemies that they became colloquially known as “Hushers”, and the name evolved into “Hoosiers” with our Midwestern accents.
  3. A contractor named Hoosier on the Louisville and Portland Canal preferred to hire his laborers from Indiana, and these men quickly became known as Hoosier’s men”.
  4. The most unbelievable (and gruesome) tall tale comes from James Whitcomb Riley, the famous Hoosier Poet. He stated that the state’s early settlers often took part in rowdy and dangerous fights, sometimes ending in severe bodily harm. Often times, the morning after a major tavern brawl, someone would walk in an find a torn-off ear or two on the floor and ask out loud: “Who’s ear?” Yuck!

What is your favorite theory? I always tell Riley’s story as if it’s truth to all my non-Hoosier friends, just to see the looks on their faces! Do you have any theories on the origins of the Hoosier?

Hoosier Book Challenge on Beanstack!

 

Join us for our Hoosier Reading Challenge on Beanstack! Now through December 31st, every time you read or listen to a book by an Indiana author you can track it on the Beanstack app to earn chances to win our prize giveaway! There will be four challenges: ages 0-7, ages 8-13, ages 14-18, and ages 19+. There will be one winner per age group.

How to Sign Up

Account Set-Up Instructions

If you already have a Beanstack account from Summer Reading, skip to the Tracking and Challenge Instructions.

1. Download the Beanstack Tracker app from your app store or visit eapld.beanstack.org.

2. If using a desktop computer, skip to step 6, otherwise tap Let’s Go!

3. Choose the School, Library, or Bookstore option

4. Tap on Find a Site

5. Search for Aurora Public Library. Make sure to select the one in Indiana!

6. Click Sign Up and follow the prompts to create your account and add readers.

* You may add more than one reader to the same account. For example, one account may include a parent and two children, two parents and one child, two adults with no children, etc.

*Parents who do not wish to participate in the challenges should register themselves as Nonreaders and add their children as Readers. This will allow the parent to track their children’s reading, but will not give them the option to track their own.

Tracking and Challenge Instructions

1. Once you are registered, the correct challenge will automatically populate based on the participant’s age. Click or tap on the challenge to join it. Once you join a challenge, you will see all the badges as well as instructions on how to earn them. There are two types of badges.

        a. Logging Badges: These are earned by logging your reading. To log, tap on the + Button and select Reading. Choose the correct Reader or multiple Readers if everyone read together. You can search by the book title, scan the ISBN, or enter the information manually.

        b. Challenge Badges: These two badges are earned at the beginning and end of the challenge. You will automatically earn the first badge when you join the challenge and the second one when you earn all the logging badges.

2. Every time you earn a badge, you will automatically be entered into the prize drawing. The Beanstack app will randomly choose a winner from the entries accumulated over the course of the challenge.

*If you have multiple Readers on the account you can switch between Readers by tapping on the circle in the top right-hand corner.

Please see a staff member if you have any questions or need assistance with the app.

Adult Recommendations

       

Find more adult recommendations here.

Teen Recommendations

      

Find more teen recommendations here.

Juvenile Recommendations

       

Find more juvenile recommendations here.

Children’s Recommendations

            

Find more children’s recommendations here.

 

1,000 Books Before Kindergarten

Families are invited to join the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program at the Aurora Public Library District. The 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program is a nationwide challenge that encourages parents and caregivers to regularly read aloud to their children. By reading just one book a night, families can reach the 1,000-book goal in three years and provide their children with essential early literacy skills. 

Research shows that the most reliable predictor of school success is being read to during early childhood. Reading to children from an early age can help close the vocabulary gap and prepare children to enter kindergarten with the skills they need to succeed. Most importantly, sharing books with children promotes a lifelong love of books and reading.

The 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program is available to all families with children between the ages of birth and five years and is totally free! Registration is open. For more information, call the library at 812-926-0646 or visit our website at https://eapld.org/programs/ When you register, you’ll receive a free book bag and a Reading Log. Each time you read 100 books, bring your reading record to the library to get a reward! We’ll celebrate with you as your child takes these first steps toward literacy.

One thousand books may seem like a lot, but if you read just one book a night, you’ll meet your goal in less than 3 years. If you read three books a night, you could reach your goal in just one year! Ask our friendly staff for suggestions—we’re here to help you on your journey to 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten!

 

Reading Challenge for 2018

I know it’s crazy to even write the year 2018, but it will soon be upon us! Are you looking for your next reading challenge? Here are some suggestions that might help you get started!

Read a book recommended to you by a librarian. (This is easy because we LOVE to recommend books to you here at the Aurora Public Library District! Or you can always check the blog to see what books we’ve been writing and raving about.)

Read a book that’s been in your “To Be Read” pile for way too long. Or read a book that you own but you haven’t gotten around to reading yet.

Listen to an audiobook. (This is easy for people who love audiobooks, but for those who have a hard time letting go of the words on the page, it can be a real challenge! You can do it!)

Read a book where the main character or the author is different than you; this could be ethnicity, religion, culture, ability, etc. Try to see the world through someone else’s eyes. You could also read a book from a nonhuman perspective.

Read a book written by multiple authors. (See if you can pick out the different writing styles of each author as you go along.)

Read a book written by someone you admire.

Read a classic. Or you could read a book you were supposed to read in school but didn’t. (I won’t tell.) You could even read a children’s book you never got to read when you were small.

Read a book by an author who uses a pseudonym.

Read a bestseller from a genre you wouldn’t usually read.

Read the first book in a series you’ve never read before.

Read a book that was published in 2018 or that is becoming a movie that year.

Read a book that was published the year you were born.

Read a book set in more than one time period.

Read a book based on a true story.

Read a book you love so much, it always makes you smile. This could even be a beloved children’s book.

Read a book that someone close to you loves more than any other book that you’ve never read before.

Read a book set somewhere drastic, like during a war, in the wilderness, or the characters are trying to survive, etc. Read something to get your heart pumping.

Read a book solely based on the cover; literally judge a book by its cover without reading the summary of what it’s about.

Read a book that will make you smarter.

Read a book that everyone but you has read. This could be that book everyone was raving about last year that was made into a movie.

Read a book with an unreliable narrator.

Read a book with pictures! (How fun would this be?!)

Read a book that’s a story within a story.

Red a book that’s won a prestigious award.

I know that our lives are busy and that it can be hard to even find time to sit down, let alone read a book. But even if you cross just a few of these off the list, you’ll come out of the challenge as a better, more well-rounded person than you were last year. But who am I to dictate what you should and shouldn’t read? Create your own reading challenge for 2018 and let us know how you do! I’d love to be inspired by you!

Happy Reading!